Term Paper: Comparing the Japanese and the Nationalists Colonize Taiwan

Pages: 25 (7015 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian  ·  Buy This Paper

Japanese Colonization of Taiwan

Over the past several decades, research has indicated that during the colonization of Taiwan, many different tools and devices have been used by the Japanese during the time period before the relocation of the Kuomintang (KMT) to the island in 1945. Historians, Taiwanese citizens, and scholars have offered various theories for the noted preference by the old Taiwanese to the Japanese rule over rule by the KMT. These theories are based on the significant impact that the Japanese rule had on the creation of a Taiwan identity. An overview of Taiwan's cultural and political history and the sources of its disputed status is essential to understanding the uncertainty surrounding Taiwan identity. This paper will explore and discuss the tools and devices employed by the Japanese during the colonization of Taiwan, the creation of Taiwan identity as a result of their resistance, Chinese national identity, and the effect of Japanese colonial identity.

Historical Background of Taiwan

Taiwan's first inhabitants have left no written records of their origins, although anthropological evidence suggests that Taiwan's indigenous people were proto-Malayans (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Their vocabulary and grammar belong to the Malayan-Polynesian family of Indonesia, and they once shared many Indonesian customs such as tattooing, using identical names for father and son, gerontocracy, head-hunting, spirit worship, and indoor burials (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Historical research indicates that when the Europeans first arrived off the coast of Taiwan in 1590, large groups of indigenous peoples along with many others from the Chinese mainland were already living in Taiwan. Portuguese navigators that came to the island introduced its' inhabitants to the Western world. Portuguese interest in the island was only moderate, however, since they left soon after establishing a settlement in the north (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).

The next Europeans to occupy Taiwan were the Dutch, and in 1630, a number of Dutch merchants, technicians, and missionaries, as well as sailors, soldiers, and officials, settled on Taiwan to trade, develop virgin land, plant sugar cane, produce camphor, tax the Chinese immigrants already living on the island, and convert the natives to Christianity (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).The few Dutch civilians on the island were greatly outnumbered by the aborigines and Chinese who had immigrated there prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The Dutch organized the Chinese immigrant tenant farmers into farm groups, and as many as 50 tenant farming households were placed under one head and every 30 or 40 heads elected a captain, who was responsible to the governor for keeping local peace and order (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).This arrangement proved very efficient for agricultural production, and the area of land under cultivation continued to increase.

Historians have theorized that this mass migration to Taiwan changed the character of the island. Recognizing the urgent need for industrious farmers, the Dutch employed the Chinese immigrants, providing them with oxen, seeds, and agricultural implements (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).In the hands of the Chinese toilers, the farms of the island flourished, and the Dutch profited greatly by collecting heavy rents from the Chinese tenants, including poll taxes for every Chinese over the age of six. In September of 1652, the Chinese farmers revolted against the Dutch. Although the rebellions were violently suppressed by the Dutch, who slaughtered nearly 6,000 poorly armed Chinese peasants, Dutch rule soon came to an end (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).

Cheng Cheng-kung, a resistance fighter, opened up Taiwan to greater numbers of Chinese settlers. He set up schools for the young, introduced Chinese laws and customs and transplanted Chinese traditions to the island. He also built the first Confucian temple in Taiwan to symbolize the introduction of Chinese culture to the island (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Cheng-kung was deeply feared by foreigners, and during his rule, an unending stream of Chinese continued to pour into Taiwan and settlements sprang up in increasing numbers along the Western coast. During the 23 years of the Cheng family's rule, agriculture was limited to southern Taiwan (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Cheng-kung also designed a military camp farming system under which soldiers participated in farm work during their spare time in order to support themselves Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).During his rule, trade was carried on with neighboring areas, such as the Philippines, Japan, and Okinawa laying a solid foundation for Taiwan's economy. This suggests that even early on, the basic foundation for Taiwan's solid economy was set in place.

Taiwan identity and resistance to the Qing rule

An examination of the historical research indicates that resistance to the Qing rule assisted in the creation of Taiwan identity. Cheng's son, Cheng Ching, succeeded his father as ruler for the next twenty years until his death. Cheng's navy was defeated near the Pescadore Islands and the Cheng family unconditionally surrendered to the Qing dynasty (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Taiwan was brought under Qing rule, and the resistance of the Chinese people against the foreign rulers continued, as secret societies were organized both on the island and in the mainland (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).As a result, numerous uprisings by the Ming loyalists were instigated first in Taiwan and then in the southeast coast of the mainland, during the following 200 years of the Qing dynasty rule in China. Thus, Taiwan became an unstable place.

It can be theorized that this resistance to the Qing rule assisted in the creation of Taiwan identity because organized societies helped the Ming loyalists implement a strong sense of unity in their struggle. Although Taiwan became unstable, those united in a fight shared similar experiences, feelings of anger and aggression. As a result, it can be said that the native Taiwanese shared a similar identity, and a hostility toward foreigners. This hostility to foreigners remained a focal point in Taiwan's history, as the island had many different rulers over a period of time. This resistance to the Qing also assisted Taiwanese in becoming independent, because although their economy was dependent on the colonists, the island had capability to function by itself if necessary and given the opportunity.

Ethnic Chinese were not the ruling class of the Qing dynasty, and did not consider themselves part of China. The Chinese term for this realm, hua (as in Zhonghua, the formal term for "China" today), denoted a cultural and economic sphere transcending ethnicity (Pastreich, at (http://www.hapress.com/prn.php?tp=150).The Qing dynasty was an extremely successful agricultural empire, and a massive increase in rural population occurred, one considered to have with serious implications for China today. During the Qing dynasty, farming in Taiwan expanded northward, and the official, semi-official, and military farm system was abolished, leaving only private farms (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).

Through agriculture, the Qing dynasty also assisted the Taiwanese in creating an agricultural identity. Taiwan had an increasingly successful agricultural market as a result of the Qing rulers and their implementation. This is important because Taiwan established an agricultural identity for itself in the world marketplace. However, a negative implication of this is that as a result of its' farming success, Taiwan became noticed and desired by many other powerful nations. This resulted in different rulers and foreigners control of the island over a period of time.

During this time period, many Chinese settlers left the mainland to settle on the island. Camphor, a major cash crop, became a cause of conflict between the new arrivals and the aborigines (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Taiwan's camphor comes from a beautiful tree with a shapely trunk and widespread branches. Exploiting this island resource brought with it conflicts between aborigines and Chinese, for the aborigines lived in the mountain forests where the trees were found (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Since the Chinese method of collecting camphor required destroying the trees, the camphor workers had to go further and further inland, where they often encountered hostility from the natives (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).

Despite the ensuing bloody conflicts, the Chinese were willing to risk their lives for the lucrative profits generated by the camphor trade, and as a result, the aborigines were forced to retreat deeper into the mountains (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Finally, the Qing dynasty was successful through a variety of political and military venues in annexing Taiwan in 1683. The authority of the Qing was based on the acceptance of cultural norms, and not on the defining characteristics of the nation- state. The very term for China in Chinese, Zhongguo or "middle country," implies a center for a larger cultural and economic unit that is equivalent to all of East Asia (Pastreich, at (http://www.hapress.com/prn.php?tp=150).

Bamboo was planted widely; rice and tea, typical Chinese crops, were planted for the first time in Taiwan (Government Information Office in Taiwan, at (http://www.taiwan.com.au/polieco/history/report04.html).Taiwan produced more rice than it needed and sold the excess to the mainland; sugar production was… [END OF PREVIEW]

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